Control Your External Display's Settings From Your MacBook

Photo: Nate Grant, Unsplash

Mac: Your Mac’s Night Shift and True Tone modes are great and all, but they can be fussy at times, and they might not work (or work very well) with an externally connected display. Separately, it’s also annoying to have to tap buttons and fumble through on-screen displays just to adjust your monitor’s brightness and contrast to your liking.

These separate but related thoughts all come together in Lunar, a free Mac app that automatically synchronises your MacBook’s brightness and contrast with a connected monitor. If your monitor supports the DDC protocol, short for Data Display Channel, you can use Lunar to adjust your monitor’s brightness and contrast directly from macOS.

Gif: Lunar

This is a little different from simply adjusting the warmth of your system’s colours via Night Shift and True Tone (or by using a third-party app such as f.lux). As Lunar creator Derk-Jan Karrenbeld describes:

I think Flux adjusts the colours of what you see by fiddling with the GPU configuration. It also has a brightness setting that has nothing to do with the native brightness setting of the monitor’s (the one you see in the OSD menu when you press the monitor’s physical buttons). I’m not sure how it does it, but I think it just makes the pixels dimmer/darker.

Lunar on the other side adjusts the native brightness and contrast settings of the monitor using the DDC protocol. You can see that changing the brightness with Lunar will also be reflected in the monitor’s OSD menu. This should give a more natural dimming.

So I guess you could use both f.lux and Lunar, as they do different things. F.lux can adjust the display colour temperature, and Lunar can adapt your brightness and contrast based on the ambient light in your room.

That’s how I’m using it right now, just that I’m using the native macOS Night Shift instead of f.lux.

I also like how Lunar lets you set brightness and contrast exceptions for various apps, in case you want to crank up your monitor to a specific setting when watching movies in VLC, but you want to keep it a little lower for when you’re coding, reading text, or playing in spreadsheets.

If nothing else, Lunar is an easy tool for manually adjusting your monitor instead of having to mess with its physical buttons. That, alone, is worth an install if that’s the kind of desk setup you have at home or work.


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